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Recalling the Celtic Tiger

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Edited By Eamon Maher, Eugene O'Brien and Brian Lucey

This book looks at various effects, symptoms and consequences of the period in Irish culture known as the Celtic Tiger. It will trace the critical pathway from boom to bust – and up to the current beginnings of a similar, smaller boom – through events, personalities and products. The short entries offer a sense of the lived experience of this seismic period in contemporary Irish society.

While clearly not all aspects of the period could realistically be covered, the book does contain essential information about the central actors, events, themes, and economic trends, which are discussed in a readable and accessible manner. Each entry is linked to the overall Celtic Tiger phenomenon and its immediate aftermath.

The book also provides a comprehensive account of what happened in this period and will be a factual resource for anyone anxious to discover information on the areas most commonly connected to it. All entries are written by experts in the area. The contributors include broadcasters, economists, cultural theorists, sociologists, literary critics, journalists, politicians and writers, each of whom brings particular insights to some aspect of the Celtic Tiger.

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Property Boom (Constantin Gurdgiev)

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Constantin Gurdgiev

Property Boom

The house price boom of 1996–2007 was the Celtic Tiger’s slow-motion, train crash-like reckoning with Ireland’s unalterable historical obsession with property as the main investment asset class, and as the Holy Grail of domestic economic development.

Following a mini-boom in 1977–9, when house prices in Ireland rose at an average rate of 10.9% per annum, the 1980s saw a decade of house price contractions, with an average annual rate of price decline of 3.7% between 1980 and 1987. From there on, and through 1995, house prices grew broadly in line with economic expansion, clocking an average annual rate of growth of just under 3%. Fuelled by tax cuts, property investment incentives and the gradual abandonment of lending constraints in the banking sector, the Celtic Tiger property boom properly took off in 1996, with an average annual growth rate through 2007 of 9.68%. Although the house price inflation rate peaked early in the property boom cycle (averaging 15.75% per annum over 1997–2001), house prices peaked in 2007 at three times their levels back at the start of the boom 12 years earlier.

Much of this boom in house prices was accompanied by similarly spectacular rollercoaster gains in the commercial property segment and in broader property investment. Buy-to-lets mushroomed in the later stages of the boom, as did purely speculative, casino-odds-like buy-ins by Irish investors (from senior civil servants to taxi drivers) into foreign property syndicates. By...

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